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Word power from Helen Garner/ Merry Christmas from Pelican Yoga


A Qualup Bell – simply being itself – is lovelier than any jingle bells, jiving. Religious leaders’ “seasonally appropriate” platitudes ring as hollow as electioneering politicians’ “motherhood statements”. But you are one click away from a beautifully poignant, perceptive perspective on motherhood…


When, in the street, I see a mother walking with her grown-up daughter, I can hardly bear to witness the mother’s pride, the softening of her face, her incredulous joy at being granted her daughter’s company; and the iron discipline she imposes on herself, to muffle and conceal this joy.

Perchance you are gifted a book voucher, you would do well to direct it to Helen Garner’s Everywhere I look.

For once the publisher’s blurb speaks truth – this collection of essays, true stories/vignettes and diary entries really is the work of one of Australia’s greatest writers.

“Dreams of her Real Self” – which contains the paragraph I have quoted – is primarily a portrait of the author’s late mother and of the loving but troubled relationship between her and Helen.

It alone more than justifies the price of admission.

The same is true of not a few pieces, including a “letter” written many years after the death of its addressee, but just after Helen has learned something crucial about “Dear Mrs Dunkley” – the teacher who, says the author, taught me everything I know.

Equally fine is “The Insults of Age”; I hope its young barman gets to read it!

Published in photographs prose non-fiction word power


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